Trains list top 10 locomotives of all times

EMD trainman Jun 21, 2009

  1. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

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    Trains, the magazine of railroading has a list of the top 10 locomotives that changed railroading and I figured I would share that info with all of you.

    #1 The American 4-4-0 / Invented in the 1830's, it used a bogie 4 wheel lead truckand flexible 3 point suspension that made it great to run on roughly laid iron tracks very reliably. 25,000 American 4-4-0 locomotives were built and were even found operating in the 1950's on class I

    #2 The Baldwin 4-6-2 Pacific / The first example was built in 1901, due to it's design and wheel configuration, the deep fire box on this locomotive is what gave it the speed needed for passenger service. The Pacific was the go to locomotive for passenger service until the mid 1950's

    #3 The Lima Berkshire 2-8-4 / In 1925, this locomotive was tested on New York Central's route across Berkshire hills in 1925, both how it got it's name and showing off it's power. With a larger boiler, this locomotive produced 35% more horsepower over any other locomotive it's size. 610 Berkshires were built, of that New York Central ordered 45 of them.

    #4 The Alco 4-6-6-4 Challenger / With trains getting longer and heavier, this locomotive provided one long boiler using 2 sets of pistons and drive wheels. This was also a articulated steam locomotive. The first 13 examples were built in 1936, Union Pacific teamed up with Alco on these examples. 252 Challengers were built, Union Pacific owned 105 of them including 6 passenger versions.

    #5 The EMD FT / THe diesel locomotive that knocked steam engines off of the map forever. GM started mass producing these in 1939 and it's dependabilty to move freight without stopping for water, moving freight faster and in extreme temperatures is what made this one a steam engine killer. Some FT's were even into passenger service, I know Rio Grande used them also in passenger service. Many railroads re-geared these to run with the later F-3, F-5, F-7 and F-9 locomotives. Santa Fe was the largest owner of EMD FT locomotives. A total of 1,096 FT's were made, 555 A uits and 541 B units from 1939 to 1945

    #6 The Alco RS1 / The final drive that ended steam power. The RS-1 road switcher was made starting in 1941 with it's 1,000 hp diesel engine. It was the first successful mass produced diesel engine made for light duty chores. It's short hood provided room for a bigger fuel tank or a steam boiler to keep passenger cars warm. There were 469 RS-1 locomotives built and they hold the longest production run of any diesel locomotive made in North America. The last one was built in 1960. The US government used 6 axle versions in WW II, you can find one sitting at the Pennsylvania Railroad museum outside yard. They also have a military 6 axle flat bed to go with it.

    #7 The EMD GP-7 / This had to be the easiest EMD locomotive to service and work on, why they never kept producing it is beyond me. You can still find these operating today on short lines, my short line owns 6 of them. The GP stood for General purpose and eliminated the need for keeping different locomotives for different tasks. THe reliabilty, the ease of maintenance, and the design to make it easy to make major repairs on is what makes this a wanted locomotive on many short lines today. There were 2,709 GP-7 locomotives built from 1949 to 1954. The GP-7 was later replaced by the GP-9, basically almost the same locomotive except with a dynamic brake.

    #8 The GE U25B / This locomotive was made to do battle with it's competitor EMD division. This locomotive is what helped put GE in the front and has stayed in the front ever since. This locomotive is also what put Alco out of buisness forever. Introduced in 1959, the U25B featured a pressurized engine compartment and a 16 cylinder engine. The U in the model designation stood for "Universal" series. The bullet proof 752 series traction motors is what kept customers coming back for more.

    #9 The EMD SD40-2 / This locomotive was railroadings super star featuring a powerful and reliable 3,000 hp 16 cylinder 645 engine. The number 645 means it has 645 cubic inches for every cylinder, thats 16 times 645 cubic inches which equals a total of 10,320 cubic inches. Today EMD has a 721 engine which you can get up to a 20 cylinder engine, thats a wow factor there. Anyway, the letters "SD: stand for Severe Duty, but it still had the all purpose duty also of the GP series. This locomotive had a modular electrical control cabinet and standardized parts so you could swp them out between sister models. EMD built 4,000 SD40-2 locomotives between 1972 and 1986 making this model the best selling model built. The number 1 customer was Burlington Northern with 775 units combined with 200 units from Santa Fe in the BNSF merger, the second was Union Pacific at 700 units and then 3rd goes to Canadia Pacific at 480 units.

    #10 The GE ES44 / The letters "ES" in the model name stand for Evolution Series. This locomotive is very modern featuring a low emissions engine. It also features a 12 cylinder diesel engine that has more horse power of a 16 cylinder with better fuel economy. It also features steerable trucks, on board diagnostics that alert crews to problems. This locomotive is available in DC or AC power, but the AC version out sells the DC version by 3 to 1 which is a testament to the better pulling power of AC units. This locomotive sure has put a dent into EMD's SD-70Ace selling market. Hopefully EMD will spring back with something else, I love EMD locomotives.

    Note: This top ten was provided by Trains magazine and was not my opinion how these were rated and picked out for the top 10.
     
  2. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    Is that Trains' statement or yours? It's not true; sounds like a description of some old N scale models.
     
  3. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

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    I have to agree on the SD40. 3 of them together makes for a great lashup. I think the ES44s are too new to put in an "All Time Best." They are pretty nice now, but how will they hold up 10 years from now?
     
  4. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

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    It was an article in the January 2009 issue, entitled: The 10 Locomotives That Changed Railroading, by David Lustag.

    I suppose his basis for selection is reflected in his statement that: "Some were the first in their field; others packaged earlier technologies into a better product. They were, for each generation, the right idea at the right time."

    Always room for discussion in any list of 10 best.

    Regards

    Ed
    .
     
  5. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

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    Triplex, it was Trains magazine statement that the GP-7 and the GP-9 were basiclly twins
     
  6. EMD trainman

    EMD trainman TrainBoard Member

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    Ed M, yes that was the article I shared here.
     
  7. Ed M

    Ed M Passed away May 2012 In Memoriam

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    Looking more closely at my copy of the January issue, it appears that while the selection of locomotives is identical, the actual wording of each description in your post is different from what is in the magazine article. For example, that quote about the GP-7 vs GP-9 isn't what was in the magazine article. Did they do a modified version to put out on their website?

    Ed
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would agree, they need to pass the test of time. So far, so good.

    Myself, I wouldn't want to try putting together this list. There have been so many successes- Steam, diesel and electrics. Seems like an impossible task.

    Boxcab E50
     
  9. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    I just had a look to see if his intro has any sort of 'in my opinion' disclaimer; but it hasn't. So I think his heading was a bit OTT. "10 Locomotives That Changed US Railroading" is probably nearer the mark.
     
  10. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think it would be much more achievable to assemble a list of ten locomotives that really made a particular railroad. This would be an interesting thing to post in some of the forums for individual roads.
     
  11. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

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    I'm surprised there were not any electrics on the list. I agree, that would be one tough list to compile.
     
  12. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

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    After reading the first 120 pages of J. E. Vance's book on the N. American Railroad, I would think the first steamer designed for the demands of the typical N. American road, notably the Stourbridge Lion and its descendants, and then the first produced and used in numbers, plus the GG1...those three would be the true engines that contributed most to the development of railroading as we know it today.
     
  13. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    Perhaps because of its newness or small numbers, that may be why the Genset locomotive didn't make the list. Or even such offerings from EMD as the 710 rebuilds for existing diesels for low-emission locomotives.
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The GG1 came into my mind as well. I also thought of some innovative steam such as the Shay, and weren't the USRA Mikados pretty good?

    Boxcab E50
     
  15. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

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    The Mikado came immediately to mind for me as well, but then I recalled the intent of the premise....that some engines were more definitive in terms of the way they changed railroading. The Stourbridge Lion was the first real step to allowing US corporations to move goods in quantity over rugged terrain, whereas the British predecessors had much flatter routes and lighter rails with lighter engines. You could say the Stourbridge Lion provided the impetus for the next major breakthrough in steam, and that would have been the Berkshire with its unique (at that time) characteristics.

    Similarly, one should argue the same way about diesels and electrics. In each case, steam, diesel, electric, the first significant N.American version that was successful commercially, and then the next significant derivation that permitted a substantial improvement in commerce for its owners....for a total of six engines historically, these would comprise "the list". There could perhaps be others in each case, but I would like to see the suggestions and encourage the debate.

    As it is, Trains.com's editors have chosen an arbitrary number, ten, and then fleshed it out with what are clearly biases toward modern diesels. Check the numbers.
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I mentioned the USRA Mikes, as I felt they had their own impact, with a slight similarity to a mass produced diesel such as the GP7.

    Boxcab E50
     
  17. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    As for the GEVOs, I would say, wait and see how they do in 40 years. There are many SD40-2's still slugging it out on the mainlines. Their brute reliability, simple maintenance and good quality rugged internals are what makes them a favorite. Just solid, sound engineering.
    The GP7 and 9 were different HP ratings because of the prime mover--wasn't it turbo'd on the 9?
     
  18. Triplex

    Triplex TrainBoard Member

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    Not turbo'd until the GP20 and SD24.
     
  19. SteveM76

    SteveM76 TrainBoard Member

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    Yep, exactly. I once saw an article or maybe it was a show that said railroading's only major technological advancements were dynamic braking and two way telemetry. Pretty much a traditional industry that has worked well for over 180 years!
     
  20. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    I was bummed there was no mention of the NP "Northern" type 4-8-4......
     

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